Veterans

September 14, 2012

‘Black Knight’ captain helps Vietnam widow claim missing award

Tags:
Sgt. Quentin Johnson
Augusta, Ga.

Shelby Harding and Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander for Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, hold a display case with Harding’s late-husband’s, Steve Harding, award during an award-memorial ceremony for Steve in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1. Hatzinger presented the Combat Infantryman’s Badge to Shelby on behalf of Steve. Shelby waited 44 years to receive this award.

For 44 years, Shelby Harding has held onto a case with her late-husband’s Army and foreign medals, but not all the spaces are filed. There a blank space where a missing award should be.

During that time Shelby had always felt her late-husband, Steve Harding, should have received the Army’s Combat Infantrymen Badge for his actions during the Vietnam War.

“I always knew in my heart that Steve was deserving of the award but I never received the orders for it,” added Shelby.

Steve died April 26, 1968, in the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam. Shelby received his awards and decorations during two separate ceremonies in 1968 and 1969 and at the time inquired to the whereabouts of the missing medal.

Shelby Harding of Augusta, Ga., holds a photograph of her late-husband, Steve Harding at an award-memorial ceremony for Steve in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1. Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander for Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, presented the Combat Infantryman’s Badge to Shelby on behalf of Steve. Shelby waited 44 years to receive this award.

“During the presentation of the awards in 1969, I asked about the CIB and the response I received was ‘What, you want more lady?'” added Shelby.

It wasn’t until 2011 that someone offered to help Shelby. Her niece’s husband searched months to find information on Steve’s CIB but to no avail.

The following year Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander of Company D., 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, made contact with Shelby after learning about Steve while sponsoring a reunion for Company D in Branson, Mo., April 2012.

“I sent Shelby a letter to simply introduce myself and let her know she is part of the Company D. family,” added Hatzinger. “At the time, I had no idea Shelby had been looking for her husband’s missing award.”

A month later, Shelby asked Hatzinger for help.

“I was pleased to help her but had no idea where to start,” he added. “I turned to a colleague in administration and she pointed me to two different military records agencies.”

For more than a month, Hatzinger worked with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command and the National Personnel Records Center – Military Records finding information on Steve and his assignments in Vietnam.

“After about a month of research, I received a call from an HRC employee who’d been working on Steve’s records,” said Hatzinger. “He conveyed to me that once a file on Steve was found he opened it up to find CIB orders dated 1968.”

Hatzinger said he was excited and relieved to receive the information, despite no explanation why orders existed without the award ever being presented.

“I was fortunate for the help I received from personnel at HRC and the NPRC,” added Hatzinger. “At the same time, I was excited and relieved that we could help Shelby and allow her some closure.”

Friends and family members of Shelby Harding dine at a local Augusta, Ga. restaurant after an award-memorial ceremony for Shelby’s late-husband, Steve, in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1. Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander for Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, presented the Combat Infantryman’s Badge to Shelby on behalf of Steve. Shelby waited 44 years to receive this award.

“I was pleased and excited that after all these years. I was able to receive Steve’s award, one I knew he deserved for service to the country,” said Shelby. “I needed that closure.”

Hatzinger said once the award was collected, he wanted to ensure Shelby received it in a customary fashion.

“I know she would have been happy receiving the award with a handshake and kind words, but I wanted to make sure it was presented in a meaningful and traditional way,” added Hatzinger.

Hatzinger arranged to have a grave-side, award ceremony in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1, which he and his wife attended along with four veterans who served with Steve, some of their spouses and 10 of Shelby’s family members.

The hour-long ceremony included the CIB presentation, a speech from three of Steve’s brothers-in-arms, a final roll call and a commemorative plaque given by Ralph Dahl from Cailfornia – one of Steve’s former platoon members, said Hatzinger. Additionally, Dahl’s wife presented Shelby with a hand-made guidon, a Company D. Flag.

“It was a somber but wonderful time, not a dry eye in the crowd,” Shelby said of the ceremony. She was inspired by the speeches, and amazed that Hatzinger and men who fought by her husband’s side would travel from around the U.S. to pay their last respects to Steve.

“There was a lot of sadness during the reading of the eulogies but Shelby cherishes her memories and deserved time to reflect on her husbands achievements … I was impressed by her strength,” said Hatzinger.

With the CIB properly resting in Shelby’s case she commented, “We have done what needs to be done. I will always have my memories and at 75-years-old, my life is complete.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

VA to hold small business engagement in Atlanta next month

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in collaboration with other federal agencies and partners, will sponsor the 4th annual National Veterans Small Business Engagement, Dec. 9-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga. The premier event for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, the NVSBE is expected to attract as many as 3,000 attendees offering the chance...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO3 Jon Erickson

World War II cruiser USS Houston final report completed

Navy photograph by PO3 Jon Erickson Naval officers from Australia, Indonesia and the United States participate in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) in honor of the crews of the U.S. Na...
 
 
DOD photograph by PO2 Sean Hurt

Hagel says Vietnam Wall teaches sacrifice, need for questioning policies

DOD photograph by PO2 Sean Hurt Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel shakes hands with a Vietnam War veteran after a Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Nov. 11, 2014. The Vietnam War Memorial t...
 

 

Unbroken line of vets keeps America free, Biden says

An unbroken line of veterans has kept the United States and its freedoms safe since the founding of the republic, Vice President Joe Biden said Nov. 11 at America’s most sacred shrine. Biden thanked veterans and their families for their efforts and sacrifices during Veterans’ Day ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns and the...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Jarad A. Denton

Veterans Day abroad: A moment of silence for the fallen

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Jarad A. Denton Rows of crosses line the Cambridge American Cemetery, England, Nov. 11, 2014. The cemetery was dedicated in 1956 as the final resting place of 3,812 American service members.  ...
 
 
poppies1

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

In 1914, World War I started in Europe. As the continent and much of the world marks the 100th anniversary, one commemoration has really struck a cord. The art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of Lond...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>